A total of 18 suspected cash-in-transit robbers were killed in a shootout with police on Friday afternoon in Limpopo.
The National Commissioner of the SA Police Service (SAPS) General Fannie Masemola, said police believed they had "broken the back of a syndicate" that was possibly responsible for a number of cash-in-transit (CIT) heists in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and Gauteng.
Speaking about Friday’s incident, Masemola said various units within the SAPS were keeping an eye on a group of suspects who were allegedly planning a CIT heist in Limpopo.
“The observation was made for a number of days before they pounced on an identified address in Makhado today (Friday).
"As soon as police approached the address, the group of suspects began shooting, and police retaliated."
Masemola said a total of 16 men and two women were declared dead on scene.
"At a second address in Thohoyandou, four suspects were arrested."
Police seized seven automatic rifles and ten vehicles, including several high-powered performance vehicles.
"Various policing experts are still combing the scene."
Masemola said a senior police officer attached to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (known as the Hawks) was wounded during the shootout and is currently receiving medical care in hospital.
During the delegation of senior police officers at the crime scene, Masemola said police were clamping down on serious and violent crimes throughout the country.
"We will continue to heighten police visibility throughout the country. We do believe this syndicate has been involved in a number of cash-in-transit heists in this province (Limpopo), Mpumalanga, and Gauteng," concluded Masemola.
The National Head of the Hawks, Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya, said this is the culmination of a major investigation that began as early as January.